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Success for T&T Fine Cocoa in London

Published: 
Thursday, November 16, 2017

The recent successes of the T&T Fine Cocoa Company and other non-energy companies in new markets is in keeping with exporTT’s objective for T&T to be exporting US$1.5 billion in non-energy products by the year 2020. Ashmeer Mohamed, chairman of exporTT, is optimistic the manufacturing sector can meet that challenge.

“Our goal is to increase non energy exports by doubling it from 2016. In 2017 exports are ten per cent higher than 2016,” he said.

Mohamed said exporTT has been working closely with companies interested in the Cuban market and T&T is now the largest Cariforum exporter to Cuba.

“Our team just came back from the Havana Trade Show (FIHAV) and we have had some additional successes that we will be talking about in the future. T&T’s companies continue to do well and exporTT continues to add new companies that are doing well to that list,” he said.

The list includes Sacha Cosmetics, Angostura, The ANSA McAL Group of Companies, Trinidad Tissues/Grand Bay Paper Products and SM Jaleel, which has just broken into that market.

“We are speaking about the Cuban market which is pretty big and in need of goods,” Mohamed pointed out.

“We also have a duty-free agreement with Cuba, so that gives us additional impetus to get there. T&T products can land in that market at very competitive prices.”

Energy companies are also using exporTT’s trade facilitation office in Cuba, which assists exporters through relationship building, trade information, co-ordination of B2B meetings and other in-market support activities.

Mohamed said the National Gas Company (NGC) has visited Cuba with exporTT and very soon Caribbean Airlines (CAL) will begin a direct flight to the island.

In addition, exporTT continues to help manufacturers find new markets for their goods.

“An export market is not something you get into overnight. Companies and businesses have to do a lot of research, meeting the regulations of the potential market and registration of products. exporTT helps with all of this,” Mohamed said.

T&T chocolate in London

Ashley Parasram, director of T&T Fine Cocoa Company, who sat in on the interview with Mohamed, said on October 10, Harrods Department Store in London began to sell the company’s chocolates in a joint venture. Within three days all of the T&T Fine Cocoa Chocolate products had been sold.

Parasram said the local Trinitario cocoa used to make the chocolates is “genetically unique.”

Noting that Harrods, a very famous department store and one of the oldest in London is renown for its very exclusive and high end luxury brands, he said: “We are very excited to be the first in the history of Harrods to have a joint branded T&T selection. You will see two brands on the box. It is a gold box which has both the Harrods’ brand and the T&T Fine Cocoa Company brand on it.”

From conversation to launch, it took two years to get the chocolates into Harrods, Parasram said.

“That is relatively quick and that is because the managing director of Harrods had overseen the process personally, ensuring quality both in terms of raw materials as well as the packaging. We would like to share this experience with other local companies who want to export,” he said.

T&T Fine Cocoa, established just over two years ago, is a public and private partnership company which produces cocoa nibs, cocoa mass, as well as Coverture, which is used in restaurants, and finished chocolates in the range from milk to dark. They also produce cocoa powder and butter.

“There are people in T&T who come to buy the cocoa butter to use for hand creams sold in the green market. Also the nibs are used in nut mixes. Other artisanal producers can access raw ingredients to produce their own value added products,” Parasram said.

The company is still working out details with Harrods of how and what quantities of chocolates they will be supplying into the future.

“The reason is that Harrods is refurbishing their food hall in the department store and they are spending £25 million and in July 2018 they will be launching a new chocolate room,” he explained.

In T&T market, companies have good ideas and good products but there is need to develop a Brand T&T so local products can be marketed and sold with ease internationally, he said.

For Parasram, the sky is the limit and in the future he is hoping to eventually market his chocolates in Asian markets.

“For our sort of material it would be favourable to look at China and Japan, which do have an understanding of high value material. The Far East and Middle East are exciting markets for anyone producing fine grade cocoa,” he said.

Mohamed said T&T Fine Cocoa Company, an exporTT client, has been doing a good job of exposing Trinitario cocoa and the state agency is excited about the company’s success.

“The crowning moment at the present time is they are now able to produce chocolates for Harrods under the Harrods name but it is being produced by them. To produce and carry the Harrods name, the quality has to be of the best,” he said.

A full list of the company’s partner outlets is available on their website at www.ttfinecocoa.com.

T&T Fine Cocoa Company’s chocolates can be purchased at Up Market at the Country Club in Maraval on December 3, 10, 17 and 23. Customers can ask about the Steel Pan Tin competition and qualify to win a box of Harrods chocolates, champagne and a tour of the factory.

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